Throughout this article, we've highlighted the need to get accurate information about your disease so you can understand it and be better able to take proper care of yourself. We've also emphasized the need for emotional support to help you cope with arthritis. Support groups can be excellent resources for meeting both those needs.
For the person who has recently been diagnosed with arthritis, a support group can be a vital part of the process of coming to grips with the disease and learning to take steps to control it. Other people with similar problems, concerns, and experiences can help educate and support you during difficult periods. Often, they can provide insights into coping as well as practical tips on managing daily activities.
However, if newly diagnosed, you may be overwhelmed during your first few meetings, because you may not yet be able to absorb all of the realities of having arthritis. Or you may see others with more severe limitations than yourself and be fearful of developing similar problems. If you stay with a group, these fears will usually fade as your knowledge increases.
Choosing a support group that is right for you may take some effort. There are many types of groups, and many styles and approaches. Some groups may be designed for the older adult with arthritis, while others may be geared to the younger adult with rheumatoid arthritis. Some programs are education-oriented, with a variety of informative presentations, and others focus on open discussions about problems or feelings. Try more than one format if you don't feel comfortable in the first group you attend.
Look for a group that is connected to the Arthritis Foundation, a medical facility, or health-care providers. Consider a group with a lay coordinator (someone who has the disease) and a health-care professional who helps facilitate the group. Information about these groups can be found in newspaper listings, through local hospitals, or through your local Arthritis Foundation.
The Arthritis Foundation
The slogan of the Arthritis Foundation speaks to the goals of the organization...Your Source for Help and Hope. The Arthritis Foundation is the only national voluntary health agency seeking the cause, prevention, and cure of the many forms of arthritis. You'd be wise to tap into this valuable resource by joining your local chapter.
Formed in 1948, the Foundation's main purpose is to serve Americans who have arthritis, their families, and the health professionals involved in the care of rheumatoid diseases. The national office, located in Atlanta, facilitates the operations of more than 65 chapters nationwide.
The Foundation's mission includes helping people with arthritis to maintain as high a level of independence as possible. This is promoted through telephone counseling, self-help courses, exercise programs, equipment loans, support groups, and a medication-discount program. The Foundation sponsors programs in public and professional education and helps support individuals studying for careers in rheumatology. The Foundation's work also includes patient advocacy through organized lobbying of legislators on the state and national levels on issues pertinent to arthritis.
Local chapters may vary somewhat in the specific types of programs they offer. However, services generally include: information, referral, counseling, patient education, support groups, exercise programs, fund raising, and support for research in the field of rheumatology. In addition to free literature on a variety of subjects, most chapters offer a physician referral list of rheumatologists in your area, statements on controversial treatments, and information on community resources and volunteer activities.
Your local chapter may have a newsletter that can direct you to programs and community activities and locations of aquatic programs and self-help courses. Membership in the Arthritis Foundation also includes a subscription to the Foundation's national publication, Arthritis Today. This monthly information magazine helps keep you current on new treatments, medications, research breakthroughs, and other issues. Visit their website at arthritisfoundation.org.
Some arthritis patients might feel most comfortable at home where they have set up their house to accommodate their disease. While this is a natural tendency, it should not stop you from enjoying everything that life has to offer. In the next section, we will show you how to travel safely with arthritis.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.